Welcome to The Leader
By Carl Guardino, President & CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Across the region’s clusters of the Innovation Economy, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group remains bullish about the pace of innovation in 2013: High-Tech, bio-tech, med-tech, clean and green tech are all making great strides. The biggest challenges on the horizon are not innovation, but are global economic issues related to slightly slower growth in China and on-going concerns about Europe.
At our Annual “Shareholders Meeting” on December 13, nearly 150 member company executives met at SunPower to finalize our rolling three-year business plan, “Return on Investment.” They selected 68 ambitious, measurable deliverables for which we will be accountable, in ten distinct issue areas. In selecting those 68 items, our members selected the following as their top three to further California’s and America’s economic competitiveness to create jobs: In DC, Comprehensive corporate tax reform and immigration reform for highly-skilled workers. In California, CEQA modernization that protects our environment and strengthens our economy.
Our Top Priorities in 2013
Some CEOs half-joke, half-lament that Silicon Valley and the Bay Area economies remain strong, and that the biggest challenge we face is the fact we’re surrounded by the State of California and the nation. However, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group sees the stars potentially aligning for significant progress on long-term growth issues in Washington, D.C., like comprehensive business tax reform and immigration reform for highly-skilled workers – our top federal priorities in 2013. We already have an aggressive strategy planned with national and regional partners.
We know that the U.S. economy has evolved dramatically since the last update of the U.S. Tax Code in 1986. Accordingly, a globally competitive business tax rate, territorial tax system and permanent R&D tax credit are needed for economic growth and job creation. We also know that 95 percent of U.S. consumers are located outside of the country and access to these markets helps expand the demand for U.S. goods and services. In 2013, we will actively engage partner organizations to meet with legislative leaders and the Administration on this issue in D.C. and in partner regions. We also will host policy leaders for round table discussions with our member CEOs in Silicon Valley, among other strategies.
In addition, many of the world’s best talent live in other countries. For America to compete in the 21st Century economy, companies need to be able to recruit and retain the best people from around the world. We think 2013 will be the best opportunity for real immigration reform for the foreseeable future. To support keeping highly-skilled workers in the U.S., we will work closely with Congressional leaders and the Administration.
In California, the Leadership Group is committed to achieving measurable results to modernize the California Environmental Quality Act – a great law that continues to be greatly abused for non-environmental purposes. We’re hopeful because of the strong leadership of Governor Brown, Senate President Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, and the balanced approach to change from incoming Senate Environmental Quality Chairman Michael Rubio. This coming year we will continue to work with our diverse coalition to publicize the need for CEQA reform and its impact on economic development in the state. We will also remain committed to making the case for CEQA reform with our well-attended and informative CEQA site tours.
Fresh Ideas – Encouraging Bi-Partisan California Solutions
By Kirk Everett, Vice President and Grace Kay, Policy Associate
California is on the road to economic recovery and Silicon Valley is in the pace car, leading the way.
Yet, looming challenges remain for new and veteran elected leaders – an inadequate education system, crumbling infrastructure, an uncompetitive regulatory climate. Unless game-changing solutions are addressed, the full force of the innovation economy will be devalued.
That is why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is investing two full days to get to know the nearly 40 new California legislators through our “Fresh Ideas from New Legislators” policy round tables that begin this month. Through these talks, strong bonds can be forged early to help California and Silicon Valley lead the nation toward greater economic prosperity, job growth, fiscal responsibility and infrastructure investment.
Respected venture capitalist John Doerr recently said in Fortune Magazine that the waves of fundamental technological innovation, from genomics to the Internet, and resulting job and economic growth, “Has always depended on four factors: government funding, great educational institutions, risk-taking entrepreneurs and venture capital.” This all requires a balanced partnership of innovation and entrepreneurship together with targeted investments and tough reforms. And it requires state and federal legislative partners to be vested shareholders in this partnership.
Unfortunately, elected leaders are at a considerable disadvantage due to the realities of California’s term limits. With more new elected officials entering office more often, there is less time for them to learn about the impacts of their decisions on Silicon Valley’s eco-system. Hopefully, the changes to term limits passed in June will afford our newly elected legislators greater potential to listen, learn and lead.
“Fresh Ideas from New Legislators” was developed to assist new legislators with their steep learning curve and to expedite innovative policy ideas. On January 23 and February 26, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group will co-host ten sessions with nearly 40 new state Assembly and Senate members along with executives from Silicon Valley’s established and early-stage companies.
“Fresh Ideas” will equip the new leaders with an opportunity to learn what really makes Silicon Valley tick. In turn, greater insights are learned about legislators’ passions and priorities. At the end of the day, relationships and trust are fortified before we all jump into the trenches together. With shared knowledge and a spirit of collaboration, we are hopeful that California’s and Silicon Valley’s most daunting challenges can be resolved.